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Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Paperback – April 13, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (April 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802142648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802142641
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though Britain's notorious Sex Pistols shoved punk rock into the face of mainstream America, the movement was already brewing in the U.S. in the 1960s with bands like the Velvet Underground and Iggy and the Stooges. Through hundreds of interviews with forgotten bands as well as the ones that made names for themselves--including Blondie and the Ramones--Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain chronicle punk rock history through the people who really lived it. Please Kill Me is a thrash down memory lane for those hip to punk's early years and an enlightening history lesson for youngsters interested in the origins of modern "alternative" music. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

As its sensationalist title suggests, this stresses the sex, drugs, morbidity and celebrity culture of punk at the expense of the music. Starting out with the electroshock therapy Lou Reed received as a teenager, working through such watersheds as the untimely deaths by overdose or mishap of Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders and Nico, as well as the complicated sexual escapades of the likes of Dee Dee Ramone, the portrayal here of the birth of an alternative culture is intermittently entertaining and often depressing. McNeil, one of the founding writers of the original 'zine, Punk, in 1975 , is certainly qualified to tell this tale. But the book's take on punk rock as "doing anything that's gonna offend a grown-up" overemphasizes the self-destructive side of the movement. Details of Iggy Pop's drug abuse and seedy sex with groupies receive more attention than important bands such as Television and Blondie, which had comparatively puritan lifestyles. Constructed as an oral history, the book weaves together personal accounts by the crucial players in the scene, many of whom seem to have been so drugged out most of the time that their reliability is questionable. McNeil and McCain (Tilt) provide a vivid look at the volatile and needy personalities who created punk, if they do not offer perceptive musical or cultural analysis. Photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Really great read and very hard to put down.
Arthur J. Owens
I wasn't around for the New York punk scene in the mid-late 70's, but this book gives you such a vivid idea of what it was like that I felt like I was there.
Kitten With a Whip
This is one of the best books I've ever read about music (and punk rock.
Mr Flash

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Kitten With a Whip on May 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that I loved so much it's actually kind of hard for me to put into words and write a review for. My husband had it on order... months before it came out, and after he brought it home, we practically fought over who got to read it first. We eventually had to work something out where we took turns and read it in shifts. Either that or one of us would sneak out and read it when the other fell asleep. If you like punk rock, it's hard to put down.
I love "oral history" style books, and this is one of the best I've ever read. At first I planned just to read everything about The Ramones (which was a lot)and not the rest. But I had so much fun reading everything else I just read it straight through. I wasn't around for the New York punk scene in the mid-late 70's, but this book gives you such a vivid idea of what it was like that I felt like I was there. I'm partial to any of the Ramones-related sections, but Dee Dee Ramone's voice really stood out. He tells enough in PKM that it could almost fill another book. He's definitely just as good of a storyteller as he is a song writer, has a good sense of humor, and his prose was definitely different. He talks about meeting his girlfriend from hell, Connie (I never thought I'd get to see a picture of the woman who inspired the Ramones song "Glad to See You Go"): "She was a hooker, I was a Ramone, and we were both junkies."
If you want gossip and dirt about the NY scene, there's plenty of good stuff. Who slept with who, who wanted to sleep with who, who back-stabbed who (sometimes literally), who didn't get along, who did what drug and how much, and much more. Even if you thought you'd read everything there was about the NY scene, or your favorite band from that time, there's stories you never heard before.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By L. Alper on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Please Kill Me" is an invaluable record of what the 70's were really like, & why the music that came to be known as punk was inevitable & absolutely necessary. The authors (who were part of the scene as publishers of the first fanzine "Punk") let the musicians & scenesters tell the story in their own words. The structure of the book is the same as George Plimpton's "Edie", simply a collection of quotes grouped to tell a chronological story. McNeil & McCain really went to the effort of finding some of the most obscure "hangers-on" who were there, so the overall view is very well-rounded. What is truly intelligent about the presentation is that they understand punk did not beging with the Sex Pistols or the Ramones. Instead, we start with the Velvet Underground & Warhol, move to Detroit to talk to the MC5 & Iggy and the Stooges, then it's early glitter with the New York Dolls! Great stuff & the timing is excellent, especially since many of those interviewed have since died. The photo sections are also excellent altho I have a few quibbles about why some people are included & others not. There is also a very helpful "Cast of Characters" at the end of the book which even the most knowledgeable rocker will flip to often.
Many younger readers may be surprised that most of the book deals with the New York City music scene. Punk has become so identified as a British import that those who weren't part of it may not realise the Brits only got going after a visit to the UK by the Ramones. CBGB's was already a very hot & happening spot, long before Johnny was Rotten!
Whether you were there or not, you will enjoy "Please Kill Me", as well as learning quite a bit from it; check it out!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. George on July 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Over the years there have been so many people and bands who have claimed to carry the "punk" banner that it's essence and spirit has been diluted into marketing babble. This book sets the record straight on the origins, practitioners and locations that defined what punk was all about. The narrative here is unadulterated and incredibly engrossing.
While you may think about some of these icons differently after reading this book, you cannot deny the incendiary creativity and raw lust for life in these New York and Detroit punk pioneers. At times simultaneously hilarious, repulsive and depressing, this book is a fascinating historical trip through the '60's and '70's. Say what you will, but these folks walked the talk like no one else in rock and roll before or since.
Finally, the bare bones, tell-it-in-their-own-words style here is refreshing and free of over-interpretation. Like punk itself, it avoids hyperbole and reflection and just tells it like it was, warts and all. Thanks to McNeil & McCain for such a terrific read. Some recent artists who claim to be punk should read this and just be ashamed of themselves...
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am not sure who invented the oral biography, though I suspect the honors should go to Studs Terkel. This is one of the best representatives of the genre that I have ever read. Some have called the book revisionist, in that it asserts the primacy of the New York and American punk movement over that of the English Punk movement. Properly speaking, it isn't at all revisionist: it is a corrective. In fact, the point of the book is that the British Punk Movement, which made more of an impact in the public eye and the mass media, actually hit the scene as punk was more or less dying. Johnny Rotten and the Clash and all the others didn't come at the beginning of punk, but only after it had been around for years and was actually fading in NY. In other words, Punk wasn't an English invention, but an American one.
The book begins with the Velvet Underground and then proceeds to the founders of Punk, people like Iggy Pop and the MC5 and the New York Dolls. All the major figures on the New York scene are dealt with in detail, from Patti Smith and the Heartbreakers to the Ramones and, my favorite NYC band, Television (who I discovered after they broke up for the first time, but who I have since seen live twice in Chicago, first in 1993 and then in 2001). Not merely the great bands and performers are featured, but a lot of the people on the scene that music fans might not have been familiar with. In fact, so many people are quoted that you begin to get confused, but not to despair: there is a very helpful Cast of Characters near the end of the book.
A great book, and one that will have any fan of the New York underground music scene in the sixties and seventies rushing to pull out their old records, and perhaps to rush out and buy a few new ones.
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